My Mother once told me a brief tale about my grandmother.
A friend stopped by my grandmother’s house one day to visit. In the course of the visit, this friend told my grandmother that one of their friends had passed. My grandmother said, “Well, why didn’t she stop by? It’s not like her just to pass without stopping.” Oh. Duh.
Monday was the seventh anniversary of my Father’s passing. I didn’t really think about it on Monday, but I have had a dim recollection of roses all week. That sounds odd, doesn’t it? Part of it stems from my resolution to post images that I’ve taken of flowers in order to hasten spring along. Tied into it are recent dreams of my childhood home, and memories of my Mother’s garden.
Many mornings in the spring and summer, she would cut a red rose from the big rosebush outside the kitchen window, wrap the cut stem in a damp paper towel, wrap that in tinfoil, and give to my Father to take to work with him. It would stay on his desk, greeting visitors and staff, until it was time for a fresh rose. We never talked about it, but it is one of those little gestures I recall that showed the love between my parents.
The year after my Father died, the anniversary was very hard. The whole year had been very hard. I had been grieving in ways I didn’t even know about, but suspected. One evening, I went to a lecture put on by our local Hospice folks about grief, and halfway through, it was all I could do not to put my head down on the table and try to sleep. I realized then that I was still experiencing some deep grief, and that this desire to sleep was the way I was expressing it. And that it tied into my depression. I worked very hard to get through that time.
The next year’s anniversary was still hard – but it was a tiny bit easier. And then the next, a bit easier still. Last year was the first year that I did not deliberately dread and thus remember this anniversary. I felt guilty when I realized it had passed without my marking it, as if I had somehow forgotten my Father and his importance in my life. But I was rational enough to dissuade myself of that notion.
Remembering today that I had not attended to the exact day this year did not spark any sense of guilt. I have not forgotten my Father. I don’t know that a day goes by that I don’t think of him (and of my Mother) in some way, on some level. It might be a memory, or the sight of something he would have liked, or an experience I wish I could have shared with him. It might be a few tears of missing him, or wishing he was here to advise me. It might be quiet contemplation of where he is now, and what he might be doing, and when we may meet again.
Yes, he has passed. He stopped with me for a long while. And now, time is passing, not leaving him or his memory in its wake, but simply moving on. As time does.